Review by Nightmare827
"I can't even look at Ocarina after playing this"
In 1986, we the people of the world were blessed with one of the greatest video games series known to man. This game series was The Legend of Zelda.
Twelve years later, the series had evolved with the technology to produce the first three-dimensional adventure in the series. This title is arguably one of the famous games of all time, The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. The game had thousands of adoring fans, and while today's gaming community is well-divided between opinions of "It's one of the greatest games ever," and "It's tremendously overrated," the game sold millions of copies and is widely heralded as the pinnacle of the series.
Then, at the turn of the millennium, Nintendo produced what should have been one of the biggest sequels in video game history, The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask. Having thoroughly enjoyed Ocarina, I could not wait for the sequel. I was lucky to receive this title for my 11th birthday. Little did I know it would, in my humble opinion, surpass everything I had come to know and love about its predecessor.
Not much changed here between the titles; Link still controls ideally the same as in Ocarina. The control scheme is essentially identical: B Button controls the sword, A button allows Link to perform various commands, Left-C, Down-C, and Right-C allow Link to use various weapons and items he has acquired throughout his quest.
However, something lightly touched upon in Ocarina was vastly expanded on in Majora's Mask. I'm speaking, of course, of the mask system.
In Ocarina, Link was, after a certain series of events, able to acquire a mask. He could only hold one mask, and these masks had very little effect: the Mask of Truth allowed him to read Gossip Stones, while the Bunny Hood allowed him to avoid Stalchild attacks at night. However, in Majora, there are 24 masks for Link to collect. Five of these allow Link to transform into five different forms: Deku, Goron, Zora, Giant, and Fierce Deity, the latter two only usable in boss fights, Giant only usable in the fourth boss fight. Thus, Deku, Goron, and Zora, along with Link's normal form, are the most widely used. The other 18 masks have various effects, some of them only used to complete certain side-quests, such as the Gibdo, Kafei, and All-Night Masks. Others, such as the Blast Mask and the Bunny Hood, are actually useful in the game; the Blast Mask allows you to, I'm not kidding, attach a bomb to your face and sacrifice some hearts if you don't have any bombs, while the Bunny Hood is probably the most useful mask in the game in that it makes you run considerably faster than normal.
Each one of Link's forms have special abilities: Deku Link can fly with a Deku flower, Goron Link has tremendous power and can roll Goron-style, and Zora Link can maneuver underwater with great ease. Link's Hylian form must be assumed to use items such as the bow or the hookshot.
Very few new items can be obtained in this game, namely the Pictograph Box, the Powder Keg, and the Great Fairy's Sword. However, old items have been redesigned, and now items previously usable only by Ocarina's adult Link (the bow and the hookshot) can now be used by child Link.
The other main addition to the game is the introduction of time. Time was indeed a factor in Ocarina of Time, but not as much as in Majora's Mask. The storyline essentially limits you to 3 (in-game) days in which you must save the world and perform other tasks, and the in-game clock is shown at all times to show how close to the apocalypse you are. Certain side-quests can only be accessed at certain times on certain days. Luckily, early on you obtain an item called the Bomber's notebook that helps you keep track of all the side-quests.
While time can be reset, many other things will be reset with it. All levels that you've defeated (and thus, all effects of defeating a level), any side-quests you've completely, and any rupees or ammunition you were carrying will be lost. However, you do hold onto your quest items (the four remains masks you get for defeating a level), Heart Pieces, Weapons, masks, and rupees stored in the bank.
Also, side-quests make the up the meat of this game. If you play through simply defeating levels and taking on the final boss, you won't get much enjoyment out of the game, seeing as there are only four levels, all of which are rather short. The characters react and move around in real (once again, in-game) time, and you'll find that each character has a set agenda and will be in certain places at certain times. The characters almost obtain a life of their own, and you can watch how they resolve their problems, or you can intervene and (usually) make things better. It's amazing how Nintendo has put together a world that's almost completely interactive and allows you to quite literally get involved with the character's lives; you'll help children find their parents, help recover a lost marriage, ease troubled souls, and help people fend off their own antagonists.
My only qualm about the game is the save system. First of all, possibly due to the game's rather large data size, only two save files can be made rather than three. Also, this game takes use of a save-point system, where Link can only save at one of the 8 owl statues throughout the land of Termina. Luckily, early in the game, the player has the opportunity to learn an ocarina song that allows them to warp to any owl statues they've previously visited.
The game utilizes the N64 expansion pack peripheral, and thus, essentially took everything good about Ocarina and made it better. Clock Town is one of my favorite locations in a video game; everyone bustles around, and the town looks alive. The temples are beautiful, all with their own charm. Many enemies and textures are recycled from Ocarina, but quite a few new ones also appear. The cut-scenes, although using in-game graphics, are very well-done. The game is quite crisp and beautiful looking for an N64 game.
The game also takes a much darker direction from almost every other Zelda game in almost all aspects, graphics included. The temples are all dark, the moon's ghastly grimace will follow you wherever you go, and Ikana Canyon is one of the moodiest game areas I've ever seen. Not that this is a complaint; despite playing through the entire game as a child, it gives it a much more adult feel, and completely symbolizes Link's coming into adulthood.
This game, I am sorry to say, is the only 3-D Zelda game thus far to have the traditional Zelda overworld theme in-game.
However, the music is great. Each main area of the game (Woodfall, Snowhead, Great Bay, and Ikana) all have the same central theme song that is variated in each area. Somehow, however, it never gets old.
As I said before, the game has a very dark tone, which is reflected in the music, as well. Almost every tune in the game has a minor twist, including the overworld theme. The Clock Town music, on the first day, is a calm, cheery, relaxing tune. However, by the time the final day rolls around, the music has changed to a frantic, dark-sounding variation of itself, and although the main, cheery tune is still there, one can hear the dark background drone that suggests the impending doom of all of the denizens of Termina. It's the attention to minute details like this that make it my favorite 3D Zelda title.
Not wanting to spoil anything, I'll give you the basics.
Essentially, a Skull Kid (if you've played Ocarina and don't know what they are, they're those orange-clad imps in the Lost Woods) comes across the Happy Mask Salesman from Ocarina of Time, who just so happens to have a very rare, valuable, and dangerous mask called Majora's Mask. Skull Kid, being the devious troublemaker he is, steals it and starts taking on horribly evil traits that change him from a trouble-making imp into a hostile maniac hellbent on world destruction. Link, on the other hand, is riding through some unknown forest (possibly the Lost Woods) searching for a lost friend (it is never specified who it is, the two most popular theories being Navi and Saria), when he is accosted by the Skull Kid and two fairies, Tatl her brother Tael. Skull Kid makes off with the Ocarina of Time and Link's horse, Epona, and when Link gives chase, he finds himself in a parallel dimension called Termina and is turned into a Deku child by Skull Kid. Tatl is left behind and agrees to help Link if he leads her back to him. Link then comes upon the Mask Salesman who agrees to turn Link back to normal if he can get Majora's Mask back. After arriving in Termina, it become apparent that the moon will crash into Termina in three days. What isn't apparent, however, is that it is Skull Kid controlling the moon.
Link goes after Skull Kid and gets his Ocarina back, but can't recover the mask, and the Skull Kid tries to pull the moon into Termina. The Salesman helps him to turn back to normal, and Link agrees to recover the mask before Skull Kid can pull the moon into Termina on the final day. Tatl then sees what her friend Skull Kid has become and agrees to help Link turn him back to normal.
The story is probably the darkest out of all the Zelda games, but also one of, if not the best. Link finds this parallel dimension and immediately becomes immersed in it. The characters he finds in the world are nearly alive, and it makes the game quite interesting. You'll find that it's impossible to help everyone in the game on one run-through of the three days, and you'll find that even though at the end you defeat the evil in Majora's Mask, there are still people in Termina who you were unable to help and their problems were unable to be solved. Even the main antagonist, the Skull Kid, becomes a completely sympathetic character after Tatl explains more about him.
Replay Value: 9/10
As stated early, the side-quests make up the meat of the game. Try doing certain events without doing others, and you'll find that characters react differently. Besides character sidequests, you also have 24 masks to obtain, 52 heart pieces, and 60 stray fairies (15 in each temple) to obtain. I've never gotten 100% on this game, although I'm trying. It's enough to keep you occupied for a long time.
Some side-quests, however, are quite annoying. The most long-winded one is the Kafei/Anju side quest. It's easily the best side-quest in the game, but it will take up the three days of your quest almost completely, starting near the beginning of the first day and ending just minutes before the moon crashes into Termina. Also, many minigames must be completed to get the heart-pieces, and some, such as the Deku Playground and the Shooting Range, are just plain infuriating.
This game is definitely my favorite three-dimensional Zelda game, and although I would also give Wind Waker, Ocarina of Time, and Twilight Princess a score of 10/10, this game surpasses all of them. It's a great game, and N64 owners and Zelda fans alike most certainly should not miss out on it.
Reviewer's Score: 10/10 | Originally Posted: 07/24/07
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